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A 21st century approach to apprenticeships

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A 21st century approach to apprenticeships

David Cameron recently said that ‘the importance of apprenticeships can’t be underestimated’. Political support for apprenticeships includes funding for 75,000 more adult apprenticeship places by 2014-15, along with an earmarked budget of £605 million. Barry Brooks, Strategic Development Director, Tribal reports.

This investment is generous, but not unsurprising when you look at the results an apprenticeship scheme can generate. 

Research by Populus on behalf of the LSC shows that 76 of employers who employ apprentices say that they provide higher overall productivity, and 80 percent feel that apprenticeships reduce staff turnover. With comment by Barry Brooks, Strategic Development Director, Tribal.

John Hayes, the skills minister, has said that he takes his inspiration for apprenticeship schemes from the old-fashioned idea of guilds, with ‘master craftsmen and master-classes’. But in a modern world, how can busy organisations find the time and resources to train staff? Employers often find it hard to release staff to attend courses, and worry that college teaching will not be in-line with their own business practices. By returning to the idea that apprentices learn best when taught ‘in-house’, modern employers are now looking to teach staff on-site, where they have more control over teaching materials and methodology. Teaching on-site and using online learning platforms lessens the disruption to business which could occur with off-site study.

Since 2006, Tribal and McDonald’s have worked to create what is widely considered to be one of the most embedded apprenticeship programmes in the UK. This programme has enabled thousands of crew members to gain a recognised qualification (of which Level 2 is equivalent to 5 GCSEs at A-C grade) already. The results at McDonald’s speak for themselves.

Since 2006:

  • crew tenure increased from 18 months to 2.5 years;
  • staff turnover is at an all-time low, and
  • 8,000+ crew members have gained a recognised qualification

Apprenticeships are considered the ‘gold standard’ of vocational education in the UK; how they are now delivered makes the return on investment – both monetary and educational – significant. Apprenticeships can now be used to train employees of any age; established staff as well as new recruits. And of course, apprenticeships are no longer confined to ‘trades’; you can now study accountancy, ICT and financial services. Harnessing the one-to-one nature of an old-fashioned apprentice with the technology and approach tailored for employers is paving the way for a better qualified workforce.

10 February 2011

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